When a company that takes itself seriously about having the highest quality nutrition comes up with a cartoon “character” named Poopsie and has banners proclaiming “The Proof is in the Poop™,” you need to sit up and pay attention!
Although the educational campaign may sound playful, the truth is its important to know whether pets’ digestive systems can take full advantage of the nutrients in their food.
What Does Bio-Available Mean?
In a nutshell, you’d like a food ingredient to be as bio-available to the digestive system as possible – meaning it can be fully digested and the nutrients can be absorbed by the digestive tract rather than passing through and just coming out the other end without any measurable absorption. We want food for ourselves and our pets to confer health benefits on the “digestive journey.” Pet food companies don’t usually address the subject of bio-availability and digestibility because it sounds so technical, but this issue is actually crucial and should be a factor in your choice of products to buy. It’s usually a topic of interest only to pet food geeks like myself, but it’s something I’ve actually written about in “The Dog Bible” and “The Cat Bible” because I wanted everyone to be aware of it, so I’m really glad Halo has raised the bar on educating pet owners on digestibility.
[Dr. Sean Delaney and I discussed whole food ingredients years ago in this episode of my show “Pet Food Advisors].
Whole Meat Vs. Meat Meal
The topic of bio-availability also explains why I’ve chosen Halo as the kibble I feed my dogs for the past decade. I like that they use whole meat, not rendered meat meals, so the dogs digest it more easily and fully – and now, in addition, Halo products are non-GMO and they tread lightly and humanely on the planet in sourcing and manufacturing all their foods.
Protein content is the big focus when we buy pet food, but what really matters is the source of the protein because that affects whether the body can fully digest it. Halo’s long-standing decision to use only whole meat – never any kind of “meal” – is now clinically proven to be more digestible and bio-available than pet foods that use meat meals. Halo knows that when meat is rendered into “chicken meal” or “fish meal” it loses a degree of its digestibility – as much as 30% – during the high-heat processing. When scientific studies are done on dogs’ feces (which is actually how digestibility is measured) they have indeed found that “the proof is in the poop:” they can determine how much protein is absorbed into the pet’s system, and how much is just passing through unabsorbed, for you to pick up with a poop bag! The more digestible the protein, the more bio-available it is to your pet. When you select a highly digestible food, your pet retains and utilizes more of the nutrition that you’re paying for.
Tracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.
Tracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.
Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.